The Arizona Diamondbacks have been the last place team in the National League West for two years running but that’s not necessarily due to lack of talent. Injuries and under performance have hurt them in the past but there is a bright future for a team with a good amount of young players ready to breakout in 2011. Hey, I’m not saying they are going to shoot from last place to winning the division this year but future stars like Justin Upton, Daniel Hudson and Chris Young should help them compete in a tough NL West.
In “30 Teams in 30 Days,” the Fantasy Baseball Cafe will preview each team in Major League Baseball on a daily basis. In addition to projecting starting lineups, rotations and closing situations, the Cafe will identify potential targets for 2011 fantasy baseball drafts.
|C Miguel Montero||.266||.332||.438||36||9||43||0||297|
|1B Brandon Allen||.267||.393||.400||5||1||6||0||45|
|2B Kelly Johnson||.284||.370||.496||93||26||71||13||585|
|SS Stephen Drew||.278||.352||.458||83||15||61||10||565|
|3B Melvin Mora||.285||.358||.421||39||7||45||2||316||w/COL|
|LF Xavier Nady||.256||.306||.353||33||6||33||0||317||w/CHC|
|CF Chris Young||.257||.341||.452||94||27||91||28||584|
|RF Justin Upton||.278||.356||.442||73||17||69||18||495|
Unsettled: First base and left field seem to be the biggest question marks going into 2011 for the D’backs but there is a chance of stability for these positions as well. There should be a platoon between Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen at first base but there’s a good chance the 25-year-old Allen will win a full time job if he plays up to his potential early on. Allen had 25 homers, 86 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and 83 walks in 469 plate appearances last year in Triple-A, so if this kid develops properly we could see a 30/20 guy with 90-plus walks in the future; good stuff. As for left field, Nady should capture the bulk of the playing time, but he’s a very injury-prone player.
Target: Miguel Montero and J-Uptown. I see both these players bouncing back in a big way in 2011; both were hit with injuries last season, but if they can stay healthy, they could turn out to be top-five fantasy players in their respective positions. I’ve had people tell me that they think Upton is going to have a regressive career like his brother, but he won’t turn to the dark side; the force is strong with this one. I’m calling a 30/30 season for my man J-Upz, possibly 40/40. I would draft him in the late-second to mid-third round. Montero should be the sixth or seventh catcher off the board; he was primed to do big things as the D’backs backstop last year, but his progression as a player came to an early halt when he went down with a torn meniscus after playing only four games in April. He missed most of April and May, cutting his season down in half. He also hit poorly at the end, but I’m not losing hope on him just yet. Montero is still relatively young at 27 years old ,and with Chris Snyder gone to Pittsburgh, Montero’s stock rises a decent amount. With definite 20-plus homer potential, the majority of appearances behind the plate and a projected fifth spot in an above average lineup and hitter friendly home park, he could be a nice sleeper pick in 2011.
|Daniel Hudson (R)||8-2||2.45||1.00||84||27||95.1|
|Ian Kennedy (R)||9-10||3.80||1.20||168||70||194|
|Joe Saunders (L)||9-17||4.47||1.46||114||64||203.1||w/2T|
|Barry Enright (R)||6-7||3.91||1.27||49||29||99|
|Armando Galarraga (R)||4-9||4.49||1.30||74||51||144.1||w/DET|
Unsettled: Everyone except Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy. Joe Saunders is not a good No. 3 starter – he’s lucky if he’s even a good number five. Saunders had a couple of big win seasons but his ERA, WHIP and strikeout numbers proves he’s just not that good. Now he’s going to play a full season in the very friendly confines of Chase Field, where balls fly out of the park; it doesn’t look too promising for him. Barry Enright looks to have some promise but is not a highly touted player and probably needs a few years in the majors to develop. Zach Duke has potential to make the rotation fighting for a spot against Mr. Imperfect himself, Armando Galarraga.
Target: Daniel Hudson. Hudson is a highly touted prospect that came over to Arizona in a trade with the White Sox and has already started paying dividends for them this past year. He had a ridiculous rookie campaign and now looks to turn in his first full season in the big leagues. He’s the future ace of the D’backs staff and even better, future ace of your Fantasy Baseball staff. Hudson is projected to be taken in 14th to 16th rounds but if there’s really no other guys you like or feel are safe bets, I would reach as far as the 11th for this stud.
The 8th and 9th Innings
|J.J. Putz (R)||3||2.83||1.04||65||15||54||w/CWS|
|Juan Gutierrez (R)||15||5.08||1.38||47||23||56.2|
Chasing Saves: J.J. Putz comes over from the White Sox as a free agent to give Arizona solidification in the 9th inning role. Although Putz had injury problems in ‘08 and ‘09, he came back strong last year, posting a stellar 2.83 era while adding a very nice K-to-BB ratio of 65/15. Turning 34 years old this February, Putz could regress from his 2010 numbers, and his injury problems are a risk factor, but there aren’t many reliable arms out there anyway so it’s worth the risk. He should be drafted after the top 15 closers, which leaves him in the back end of draft boards. Don’t reach for the guy if there are better players on the board — just wait for him to fall in your lap in the late rounds if you need a closer. Juan Gutierrez projects to be the setup man and is only fantasy relevant if Putz loses his job or gets hurt. Although Gutierrez’s numbers look pretty bad, he did really well at the end of the season, posting an ERA of 1.50 with 12 saves in 12 opportunities in the last two months of 2010. Waiver wire, anyone?
Overall, the young D’backs have some exceptionally talented players and a few veterans who pose to be useful as well. Offensively, Upton should be the first player from this team to be drafted in the early third round, Chris Young, an underachieving prospect who broke out last year, should follow a few rounds after. Will he fall off this season? I think he’s worth the risk with nice 30/30 potential, and he’s just getting into his prime. Kelly Johnson and Stephen Drew will go in the mid rounds as good value picks, and they comprise a slightly undervalued middle infield duo that is also hitting its prime years of baseball. Montero can be taken in the mid-to-late rounds. Hudson and Kennedy should be the only starting pitchers drafted on the D’backs, with Hudson going in the middle rounds and Kennedy some time later. Putz should be snatched up towards the end of most drafts. If the D’backs can stay healthy and perform well as a unit, they could make a run for the playoffs, but most likely their pitching won’t be strong enough to make that big of a leap. Some good mid-round draft picks and a few big time players coming from the D’backs this year should help you out in your fantasy league.
Check back tomorrow as we preview the Colorado Rockies.
Christopher Ventra is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Christopher in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of cmonni15.
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